Sabres continue postseason charge vs. Rangers

9:52 AM, Mar 23, 2012   |    comments
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(Sports Network) - The Buffalo Sabres will continue their charge for a playoff spot when they visit the Eastern Conference-leading New York Rangers tonight at Madison Square Garden.

The Sabres enter today one point behind Washington for the eighth and final postseason berth in the East and the Capitals are also in action tonight against visiting Winnipeg.

Buffalo has won two straight and boasts a 4-0-2 record in its last six trips to the ice. All told, the Sabres have lost just two games in regulation in the last month, going 11-2-4 over a 17-game stretch.

"We've put together a good run to get where we're at," Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff said after his club's win Wednesday against Montreal. "We know there's a tough schedule ahead of us, but it's rewarding to get as close as we've gotten right now."

Buffalo has outscored the opposition by a combined 10-3 margin in its last two contests, posting a 7-3 win Monday in Tampa Bay before Ryan Miller notched his sixth shutout of the season in Wednesday's 3-0 decision over the visiting Montreal Canadiens.

Miller posted 34 stops to record the 28th shutout of his career. It was the former Vezina Trophy winner's third shutout in his last 11 starts.

Cody Hodgson scored twice, Jason Pominville lit the lamp, and Derek Roy added two assists for the Sabres. Hodgson now has two goals and two assists in his last two games after going without a point in his first 10 games with Buffalo following a trade last month with Vancouver.

"Well, I said after the game in Tampa that getting a couple assists was going to be a boost for him. You know, you feel good about that and I thought tonight he probably could've had four or five points," Ruff said of the 22- year-old Hodgson.

Tonight, the Sabres will try to avoid getting swept in the season series by the powerful Rangers, who are leading the East and Atlantic Division by one point over idle Pittsburgh. New York is also just two points behind St. Louis for the top seed in the NHL and the Blues, who have played two more games than the Rangers, are off this evening.

New York is 3-0 against Buffalo this year, but needed to go past regulation to win the last two encounters. Overall, the Rangers have claimed five of seven in this series and Buffalo has lost two of its last three games in the Big Apple.

The Rangers are capping a seven-game homestand tonight and are 4-2 on the residency after posting victories in the last two outings. New York registered a 4-2 win Monday against the rival New Jersey Devils and then earned its first win over the Detroit Red Wings in more than eight years with an overtime decision on Wednesday.

Ryan Callahan's goal with 2:18 remaining in OT lifted the Blueshirts to a 2-1 victory over Detroit. It was New York's first victory over its Original Six rivals since October 25, 2003.

The winner was set up by defenseman Michael Del Zotto, who held the puck near the blue line after a dish from Brandon Dubinsky up the left wing. He centered for Callahan, whose rising wrister hit the back of the net just under the crossbar.

"I think we're starting to get our groove back, and we're starting to play how we want and how we were playing earlier in the year," said Rangers captain Callahan, who celebrated his 27th birthday on Wednesday. "It's an important time of year, and we've got to keep building and keep going.

Brad Richards tallied in regulation for the Rangers, while Henrik Lundqvist earned his 34th win of the year with 26 saves.

The Rangers had forward Artem Anisimov back on Wednesday after he sat out two games with a shoulder injury. Defenseman Steve Eminger has sat out three straight games with an undisclosed injury and is questionable for tonight.

New York, which is 26-9-2 as the host this year, will begin a three-game road trip when it visits Toronto on Saturday. The Rangers also have a solid 20-11-5 mark as the guest.

With a point tonight, the Rangers can post their first 100-point season since 2005-06 when they hit the century mark on the nose.

The Sports Network

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